Academic Engagement: Hispanic Developmental and Nondevelopmental Education Students

By Brickman, Stephanie J.; Alfaro, Edna C. et al. | Journal of Developmental Education, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Academic Engagement: Hispanic Developmental and Nondevelopmental Education Students


Brickman, Stephanie J., Alfaro, Edna C., Weimer, Amy A., Watt, Karen M., Journal of Developmental Education


It is widely understood that the Hispanic population is overrepresented in developmental education, a trend that spills over from Hispanic student overrepresentation in noncollege preparatory high school classes (Solorzano & Ornelas,2004). Arbona's (2007) work identified poor high school curriculum as a contributing factor to the lack of college preparedness of Hispanic students. Additionally, first generation college students typically do not complete college at the same rate as students with college-educated parents (Chen & Carroll, 2005; Pike & Kuh, 2005). However, Hispanic students who enroll in developmental education have been shown to persist toward a college degree at higher rates than their nondevelopmental counterparts (Crisp & Nora, 2010; Nora & Crisp, 2012). In a study of Hispanic students attending a Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS; 25% minimum Hispanic enrollment), Watt, Huerta, and Alkan (2011) found that taking a developmental course precluded many students from meeting operational definitions of college success; however, despite needing remediation, these students remained on track at a higher rate to graduate in a timely manner than "prepared" Hispanic freshmen. Attending an HSI has also been shown to have a positive effect on Hispanic student success (Crisp & Nora, 2010; Hurtado & Ponjuan, 2005).

Hispanic students and first-generation college-goers often choose to enroll in community colleges immediately after high school rather than in four-year institutions (Cabrera & La Nasa, 2000; O'Connor, 2009). Researchers (Hernandez & Lopez, 2004; Melguizo, 2009; Romo & Salas, 2003; Swail, Cabrera, Lee, & Williams, 2005) suggest that Hispanic students are more likely to earn their bachelor's degrees if they start their college careers at four-year institutions rather than at two-year institutions. In Watt, Huerta, and Reyes' (2013) study of Hispanic students attending two-year and four-year HSIs in Texas, university students were significantly more likely to meet the operational definition of college success and be on track to graduate from college within 6 years.

Lack of college preparatory courses, poor h igh school curriculum, and limited understanding of college experiences by parents and families are factors that contribute to the high percentage of Hispanic students who are assessed and recommended for developmental education course work. The percentages also suggest that these students arrive at college underprepared for college success; however, research suggests that those who enroll in a developmental course are persistent toward college completion. Research on Hispanic students and their enrollment in developmental education is abundant; however, there is a lack of empirical research focused on their self-regulation of academic engagement, a critical element for college completion. Academic engagement refers to a students' level of cognitive and metacognitive strategies used to acquire, integrate, and retrieve information (Hong, 1995; Zimmerman & Martinez-Pons, 1988). Self-regulation refers to the processes of self-monitoring, evaluation, and self-reaction (Bandura, 1986) which influences the student to adjust cognitive strategies, motivation, and behaviors to be successful. Most educational psychologists agree that effective learning requires students to self-regulate their academic cognition, motivation, and behavior (Zimmerman, 1990).

Understanding the critical elements that support student academic engagement is vital to helping students succeed in college. We propose that preparedness for college course work (academic engagement) is supported by developing personal interests which help create, guide, and direct successful academic behavior. It is through developed personal interests that present and future academic, social, and occupational goals are established; these goals further enhance students' motivation to selfregulate academic engagement in college courses (Locke & Latham, 1984,2002). …

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